Most clients suck.
Why? Because most people looking to hire a lawyer are in crisis mode. And what crisis mode really means is once you put their fire out; they’ll disappear as quickly as the problems you made go away.Now what? You spend all that time getting to know a client and their business only to retain them for one billing cycle. Now you’re stuck taking on the next one-off client that walks through your door.
16 years ago, my average client value was $3,246.68. Then I figured this out, stopped being reactive, and grew my average client to $106,705.88. Per Client. Per Year. Every Year. It all started with one simple but powerful choice I made.
I decided I was NOT going to be a band-aid for crisis clients from that day forward …Even if it meant living on Ramen for the foreseeable future.
In order to put this band-aiding business behind me, I had to confront a few lies that plagued me and most other lawyers.
1. Lawyers only put out fires.
Yes, lawyers are taught to put out fires when they come up, but that’s only a fraction of what we’re trained for. Lawyers help clients avoid fires before they happen. And this kind of prevention-based practice requires an ongoing relationship with a client, not a clinic to stop in for a band-aid.
I was determined to be in the business of crisis prevention, not crisis management. This leads me to challenging the next assumption...
2. I must take on every client that walks through my doors.
It’s always nice to have another client that’s willing to pay you. You think you’re doing yourself a favor by taking the business that’s appearing at your door. But like I said at the beginning, most clients suck.
Until you determine your ideal client and begin saying no to the ones that don’t match that profile, you’ll stay stuck in crisis mode and may as well get used to being a band-aid.
3 Questions Every Lawyer Needs To Ask
I created an ideal client profile by asking myself 3 questions.
A) What kind of practice do I want?
I wanted a practice with ongoing relationships – and revenue. Where I was involved before things became a crisis, so I could prevent a crisis.
B) What kind of client will support this practice?
In my case, an Ideal Client realizes the value of preventing problems, and is willing to pay for it. They’re willing to pay on an ongoing basis, for access to my expertise.
C) Who are these clients and how do I find them?
Now that I knew what I wanted, and what clients support that kind of practice, it was time to find them. In my case, looking for the few who valued long-term planning, risk avoidance, and had budgets to pay.
Now, your practice may be somewhat different, but the methodology is the same. You always begin with the end in mind. What kind of practice do I want, then what kind of clients support that practice, then where do you find them.
If you continue to let the clients choose you, instead of you choosing them, you’ll forever live in reactive mode. In crisis mode. Not in control of your practice.
In my programs we use a methodology called the VIP Referral Strategy that follows this exact pattern to quickly identify who are the referral sources who’ll start sending you exactly those clients, then get them to start sending the business. Members see a trickle of random, unplanned referrals turn into a clear step-by-step process for getting more of the right clients.
Because they have a plan.
You can make a plan, too. Just follow the steps, A, B, C.
And the next time a crisis client walks through your doors, do yourself a quick favor and ask this simple question:
“Is this client going to help me build my practice or just survive another day?”